Saturday, December 12, 2015

Big Chill

Posting a bit earlier today than usual because I was thinking about all of the runners doing holiday themed races this morning.

This is the story about how I started racing. If you had asked Nicole circa 2003 if she would ever run a half marathon, she would have laughed and made some sort of comment on your sanity level.

Not that I wasn't active 12 years ago. I had recently graduated college, had moved out to southern California for a job, and was determined to shed the 30 pounds I gained eating cheeseburgers and ice cream practically every day for the prior four years. Being in So Cali made activity fun and easy - with beautiful, warm weather almost every day, I took every opportunity I could to be outdoors, whether it was riding my bicycle to the grocery store, hiking in the San Bernardino mountains, or just taking walks to soak up some rays. I had two gym memberships - one to a standard fitness facility (which I could be found hanging out on an elliptical when it was raining outside - no treadmill for me at the time), and one to an indoor rock climbing gym (definitely an awesome way to get exercise).

Fast forward four years, when I took a job in Connecticut to be closer to friends and family. Everything about Connecticut encouraged me to just stay inside. My bike collected dust. There was no rock climbing gym. My daily routine (60 minutes on the elliptical) - and corresponding weight loss - stagnated. I knew I needed to change it up - so one day, I just bit the bullet and got on the treadmill.

I think that first experience on the treadmill probably lasted oh, five minutes, at a pace that could only be considered a "wog." (walk? jog? who can really tell?) It was HARD compared to the elliptical. But every day afterwards, I got on the treadmill and either pushed myself a little longer, or a little faster, or both. I added inclines. On the occasional nice day in Connecticut, I took my run outside. I would add new songs to my iPod shuffle and get way too excited during my run when they came into the mix.

What kept me going was all about variability. I could present new challenges to myself daily when running, and it kept things interesting. When my husband and I moved to New Jersey in 2010, we were roped into signing up for a 5k by some of his co-workers who wanted to form a team. I had never considered racing before - especially in a race that was going to be in the middle of December, as I hate the cold - but it was for a good cause (the entry fee was simply an unwrapped toy for charity for the holidays), and we wanted to support the team.

Oddly, nobody else from our team showed up for the actual race that day. But it didn't matter - we had a blast! Runners showed up in Santa suits and elf ears (we even ran with the full Nativity). DJ's blared holiday music at strategic points along the course. People I didn't know were cheering for me along the way.

I jogged the whole race with my husband, who was intently worried about coming in last place. I assured him that these kinds of races bring out people of all abilities. About halfway through, I said to him "Look at everyone you're ahead of, Ben!" "To be fair," he replied, "One of them is a basset hound."

When we crossed that finish line and I got my post-race bagel and banana, I knew I was hooked (I was much more excited about bagels and bananas back then).

My husband, friend, and me before our "Big Chill" running 5k race
My husband, bestie, and me at last year's Big Chill 5k together
So that's my story about how I got sucked into races. I did that same charity 5k every year I lived in NJ. I've also run a number of other distances, including four half marathons, and have my fifth coming up in April. But I've also had to deal with runner's knee, IT band issues, foot pain, and disordered eating. I just hope I can find the right formula to keep me going until April.

126 days left.

Today's Exercise:  90 min walk. Yup, still walking.

coffee, 3 eggs with spinachtuna salad, SBux latte w/ heavy whipping creamPaleo turkey taco salad, peppermint tea

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